“Picture this,” Amy said. She was stood on a bench outside London King’s Cross and the tourists kept taking her photo, mistaking her for an attraction. Tommy was opposite with a plastic bag full of cheap cider, crisps and dodgy sherry. Her hair was vibrating in the autumn wind. “Me and Lex. We’re sat in History with a backpack full of vodka between us and Mr. Harps- you remember Mr Harps?”
“Uh-huh,” Tommy said. He zipped his hoodie to the top and grabbed a can from his bag.
“Mr Harps wanders over and asks- Tommy?”
“I’m listening,” he said into his phone. “Haven’t heard from Justin.”
“And yah won’t, love.” Amy said, now pacing along the bench. “He won’t’ve charged his phone, but he’ll be here.”
“Yeah.” Tommy said, flipped the phone closed and put it in his back pocket. “So you and Lex?”
“Moments passed, mate,” she said and using Tommy’s hand as support, she jumped down. “But it’s a good’un.”
“Tell me later,” He said, opened the can of cider and poured some into a drain. “We’ve got all day.”
“Picture this,” Tommy said. Justin had just rocked up twenty minutes late and clapped both of their hands and backs.
“No,” Justin said. “Not yet.” He picked up Tommy’s bag and he and Amy started walking towards the underground. Tommy watched them walk for a few seconds before jogging to join them. He wasn’t exactly sure how long it had been since the three of them had been together, but he did know that they would meet for Lex’s birthday like they had since they were in school. Every year had meant a different London district and today they were starting in St James’s Park. Gone were the days where they would sit in a cheap Southampton bistro and drink rounds paid for with copper coins. The boys with banjos that they used to watch had all grown up and moved to commuter towns with their boring wives and boring children. Justin was now getting supporting slots with top forty bands and fucked off on tour every few months, Tommy had started to give up on his music career before it had started and Lex? Ha. Recently, Amy had told him that some days when she woke up with a dry mouth and rattling head she would trace her fingers over the pictures of the four of them: Tommy with more ink than sense and a height that meant his forehead rarely made the print; Justin, in an acid wash denim jacket, stood on his tiptoes to try and fool future viewers that he was anything more than 5’9, and little Lex, beaming in the centre with her shoulder length white hair and oversized flannel. On the rare occasion that Amy would look in the mirror, all she saw were tunnel eyes and cracked lips and the same dungarees she’d had since secondary school. She’d worked at the same bar in Exeter for the last five years, and she still kept her car keys and a guitar pick on her bed stand in case she ever needed to leave. Tommy had always known Amy like the veins on the back of his hands, and knew that for her sake today would be different. Today would be different. Continue reading